Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warrin'

A lot of supporters of gay marriage and gay civil rights in general are furious that Rick Warren, who has said that gays marrying somehow infringes upon his civil rights, will deliver the invocation at Obama's inauguration next month. This comes on the heels of some gay rights groups believing that Obama didn't do enough (he didn't do anything, actually) to help prevent the passage of Prop 8 and that he is dragging his feet a bit when it comes to implementing a policy agenda that favors gay equality (no timetable on repealing DADT, etc.).

What seems to me to be obvious is that this is a classic case of Obama being Obama, and not letting himself be beholden to any particular group of people. Clearly he is in favor of progress on gay civil rights - civil unions, getting rid of DADT, et. al. - but the choice of Warren to take part in such an important moment in his career and our country's history is clearly a signal that, yeah, he will be the president of even bigots and homophobes as well as the rest of us:
In his short political career, Obama has deftly manipulated political symbols to his advantage, but he's never been one to pay homage to one of the most sacred regulations of identity politics, which is that one must take care of one's own kind before turning outward. His mind operates differently. Obama does believe, as many of his supporters do, that there are uncrossable demarcation lines between the reasonable and the profane. But he doesn't believe that Warren, someone he admires for reaching outside his (Warren's) comfort zone on AIDS, is all that different from himself. Obama is simultaneously capable of admiring Warren while disdaining Warren's oogedy boogedy appraoch to gay relationships and his uninformed response to torture. Warren's views might be hurtful to gays; Obama does not think they are harmful.
While somewhat hard to swallow, this incident should not come as a surprise. Again, it's classic Obama. His whole thing all along has been let's come together, let's embrace each other despite our differences, and he's probably right in that regard. How can we ever get to some kind of working majority or legislative consensus on gay rights without bringing the other side - the ones who are against it - into the tent? This doesn't mean that Obama secretly condones Rick Warren's disgusting views; it's just that he sees farther down the road than, frankly, many of us regular folks do. Obama recognizes the importance of having Warren participate in such a big moment, and figures that maybe he can score some political capital with it and use that capital down the road - say, in 2010, when he decides the time is right to do away with DADT.

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